Last week, this feature made its debut, and now here we go with some updates as there was more movement in the table and the league standings were turned upside down this week (as the top three teams lost — and two of them to the 14th and 15th place teams!)
The Riverhounds won their third straight game, but still have not been able to pull above the playoff line primarily because Orlando City City B and FC Cincy both picked up wins to stay ahead.
Again, here’s my second edition taking look at the overall picture of the playoff race, team-by-team, in three categories of USL’s Eastern Conference:
- Pretty Secure
- LogJam in Middle
- Not Looking Good
- Louisville City FC (44 pts) – They didn’t just lose to the red-hot Orlando City B, they were walloped 3-0! Probably just a blip on the radar for one of Eastern Conference favorites and most complete teams this year. Next up: Charleston, Sat. Sept. 2
- Charlotte (44 pts) – loss to last place Toronto FC II was certainly a head scratcher, as the once-hot Independence have now lost 2 of last 4, but thanks to OCB, they still share top line with Lou City. Next up: Richmond, Sat. Sept 2
- Charleston (41 pts) – could not gain any ground in the standings because they lost to 14th place Richmond, 3-1. Next up: Lou City, Sat. Sept. 2
- Tampa Bay (38 pts) – coming off a loss and then a draw to Ottawa, took the week off, and didn’t lose any ground. Go figure. Next up: NY Red Bulls II, Sat. Sept. 2
- Rochester (38 pts) – at least one team made a move upward in the top five this past weekend, pulling into a tie with Tampa Bay after a 2-1 win against an up-and-down Saint Louis FC team. This now puts them in “pretty secure category” but a few losses, and things might change. Next up: Toronto FC II, Sat. Sept. 2
LOGJAM IN THE MIDDLE
6. Orlando City B (35 pts) – hottest team in USL. Unbeaten streak now reaches 11 (3-0-8) with a throttling of 1st place Lou City, as they finally beat a team with a winning record, and boy did they. Next up: Bethlehem Steel FC, Thurs. Aug 31
7. FC Cincinnati (34 pts) – Despite some struggles in league play of late, a big 3-1 win last Wednesday against Ottawa helps gave them some breathing room. Next up: Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Sat. Sept. 2
8. Bethlehem Steel FC (33 pts) – unable to pick up any points at Pittsburgh, Steel suddenly drop down to tie with in-state foes. Quick turnaround for Thursday game against the hottest team in the league isn’t a good recipe for moving up in the standings. Next up: Orlando City B, Thurs. Aug. 31
9. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (33 pts) – The Hounds have picked up the slack in the attack, scoring eight goals in the past three games. Boasting a winning road record (4-3-6), the Hounds now travel to hostile territory, to play before 20,000 fans in Cincy. Next up: FC Cincinnati, Sat. Sept. 2
10. New York Red Bulls II (32 pts) – the sugar-free Bulls couldn’t move up too much on Sunday, settling for a draw vs Ottawa. Next up: Tampa Bay Rowdies, Sat. Sept. 2
11. Saint Louis FC (29 pts) – STLFC have been up-and-down, losing again on Saturday at Rochester. The schedule gets friendlier with a bunch of games against lower placed teams. Next up: Toronto FC II, Wed. August 30
12. Ottawa Fury (29 pts) – pull into tie with STLFC with a draw against NY Red Bulls II. Next match is against Saint Louis, and if either can win, will put the other in a big hole. Next up: STLFC, Sun. Sept. 3
NOT LOOKING GOOD
13. Harrisburg (25 pts) – after getting pummeled by Lou City last Wednesday, took a much needed weekend away from the action. Next up: Tampa Bay, Wed. Sept. 6
14. Richmond (23 pts) – the Kickers showed some life, beating long-time rivals, and third place Charleston in an Old Guard Shield match that helped the Hounds stay in the lead in the race to win the shield. Next up: Charlotte, Sat. Sept. 2
15. Toronto FC II (21 pts) – not to be outdone, the Baby Reds also stunned most pundits on Saturday, beating Charlotte, one of the best teams in the league this season, 3-2 in Ontario. Next up: STLFC, Wed. Aug. 30
GAMES TO WATCH (AUG. 31 – SEPT. 3):
THURS. AUGUST 31
Bethlehem Steel FC vs Orlando City B
SAT. SEPT 2
Pittsburgh vs FC Cincinnati – the red hot Hounds travel to Cincy to take on a team that has been rather average in league play this season. If the Hounds would win, they will jump into the playoff mix.
Lou City vs Charleston – 1st vs 3rd place teams — as both coming off losses.
SUN. SEPT 3
Ottawa vs Saint Louis FC – this is essentially an elimination game, especially if one can get three points.